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1995: Major wins Conservative leadership

The Prime Minister, John Major, has won his battle to remain leader of the Conservative Party.

Mr Major received backing from 218 of the party's MPs in the leadership ballot.

His sole challenger, John Redwood, got 89 votes.

There were eight abstentions with 12 spoilt papers. Two Conservative MPs failed to vote.

Mr Major's victory represented support from two-thirds of the parliamentary party - more than enough to win the contest outright in the first round.

"I believe that has put to rest any question and speculation about the leadership of the Conservative Party up to and beyond the next general election," Mr Major said.

The prime minister's resignation as leader of the Conservative Party last month was widely seen as a ploy to bring to a head deep divisions in the party over the highly contentious issue of Europe.

There were also persistent rumours of a leadership challenge from inside the cabinet.

But Michael Portillo and Kenneth Clarke - both floated as possible leadership contenders - backed the prime minister.


"He won fair and square"

John Redwood

The defeated challenger, John Redwood, who resigned as Welsh Secretary to contest the party leadership, moved swiftly to congratulate the prime minister.

"He won fair and square under the rules and I pay tribute to that victory," he said.

"I and my colleagues have fought a strong campaign - we have raised many important issues."

Mr Redwood attracted support from those in the party who wanted a tougher approach to growing European integration.

But his distant and unemotional manner earned him the nickname 'Mr Spock' or 'The Vulcan' after the character from the television series, Star Trek.

John Major is now expected to re-assert his authority with an immediate cabinet reshuffle.

In Context
Following his leadership contest victory John Major reshuffled his cabinet.

John Redwood, his former Welsh Secretary, was not included in the new line-up.

Mr Major resigned as Conservative Party leader two years later following Labour's victory in the 1997 general election.

He stood down as an MP at the 2001 general election after more than 20 years in parliament

John Redwood tried to land the leader's job again after Mr Major's election defeat.

He came a distant third to eventual winner William Hague and Kenneth Clarke.

New leader William Hague appointed John Redwood to his shadow cabinet but sacked him after his first reshuffle.


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